Macworld 2009: I don’t blame you, Steve

So this is how Apple goes out from its last Macworld, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Steve Jobs chose not to deliver the keynote address at this year’s show, once again causing rumors of his declining health to spread across the Internet. The responsibility instead fell upon Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing, Phil Schiller. Jobs addressed the rumors just yesterday, assuring everyone that his health hasn’t affected his responsibilities. After this morning’s Apple keynote, I’m inclined to believe him—I wouldn’t have wanted to be on that stage this morning for any reason, either.

What does it say about an Apple keynote when the highlight of the event is MacRumors’ blog getting hacked and subsequently spammed by 4chan users? That’s how boring this morning’s show was. It certainly wasn’t a bad show, with no huge missteps by Apple and no on-stage disasters—it just wasn’t very exciting. Cyril’s already given us a rundown on the day’s frivolities, but like the last Stevenote, I’ve got a thing or two to say about the event. Here are the major standouts from today’s keynote in my eyes:

  • iLife ’09 brings back the excitement after a lackluster showing in 2008. I’m not calling iLife ’08 a bad product, but Events wasn’t a must-have new feature for iPhoto, and iMovie ’08 was so frustrating that Apple had to allow customers to downgrade to the previous version. iLife ’09 brings focus back to the product by packing in several new features that users should actually care about. So how did they do it?
  • Facebook and Flickr are integrated into iPhoto ’09. Apple is finally on board with some of the most popular social networking applications, bringing the ability to export from iPhoto directly to Facebook and Flickr, tags and all. The new facial recognition feature should also make tagging friends in photos a heck of a lot faster—just in time to start uploading all of those photos from the holidays. In addition to being able to sort through photos by Faces, iPhoto ’09 also adds support for Places, which uses GPS geotagging to add location data to photos, assuming your camera supports it. Apple needed to hit a home run with iPhoto ’09 (especially with yesterday’s release of Google’s Picasa for Mac) and it looks as though they delivered.
  • iMovie is back in form. The drag and drop editing system that worked so well in ’08 is back, but with all of the other features we missed. Automatic image stabilization is a welcome addition, but there are plenty of fun new toys like cartoon effects and Indiana Jones-esque map animations.
  • GarageBand ’09 rounds out the iLife ’09 package by adding interactive lessons for aspiring musicians, with some even taught by musical celebrities like Sting, John Fogerty, and more. The application will come with a handful of lessons, while any further instruction with cost you $4.99 a pop from the iTunes Store. While I can’t speak for the quality of the lessons, the novelty factor will no doubt be high for wannabe rock stars, and it’s certainly more beneficial than twirling around an oversize Fisher Price-style guitar with Guitar Hero.
  • iWork ’09 further obsoletes Office 2008 for Mac. God bless Microsoft for trying, but no matter how much it wants to make Office the premiere productivity suite on the Mac, Office for Mac seems destined to forever be a buggy, slow, and unstable software package. The only reasons it has any customers on the platform are its finicky file formats and grandfather status in office environments. Though iWork ’09 doesn’t add many standout features, numerous changes have been made and cross-application interaction looks much improved. The most exciting addition in Keynote ’09 is the ability to use an iPhone or iPod Touch as a remote during presentations, letting you control the pace and glance at slides for notes.
  • iWork.com arrives, brought to you by the people who can’t make MobileMe work properly. It’s no secret that Apple’s MobileMe data sync program was practically a fiasco at launch. After several months of updates, tweaks, and its fair share of outages, MobileMe is finally a product that Apple doesn’t have to be embarrassed about—but will iWork.com share the same troubled development? For now, Apple will be launching the service as a free beta, with plans to eventually monetize iWork.com. Whether they can come up with a product that’s better than the free Google Docs remains to be seen.
  • Apple introduces a new 17″ MacBook Pro with matte display option, but nerds still find reason to rage. Nothing from Apple can ever be perfect, and sure enough, the Internet has found nits to be picked with the new 17″ MBP. The new MacBook Pro utilizes a battery similar to the MacBook Air, offering extremely long life (touted as up to eight hours) with only a single caveat: it’s not removable. Those who like to carry around multiple batteries for overseas trips are out of luck—fly an airline with power plugs at the seats. Those who find humor in Apple’s pricing schemes will enjoy configuring the new MacBook Pro with a 2.93 GHz Core 2 Duo, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid state drive for the small sum of $5,200. I’m still only slightly bitter that Apple doesn’t include a Blu-ray drive.
  • More DRM-free music arrives on the iTunes Store. Eight million of the 10 million songs offered on Apple’s music store are now being sold free of any digital-rights management, and Apple aims to have the entirety of the iTunes library available DRM-free in the coming months. Amazon’s DRM-free music store no doubt lit a fire under Apple, and kudos to the music industry for allowing iTunes to offer music the way Apple originally hoped.
  • The iTunes Store becomes available over the air. I never really understood this limitation in the first place, unless AT&T really didn’t want to deal with the increased network load. Regardless, the iTunes Store can now be accessed over an EDGE or 3G cellular connection, rather than just Wi-Fi.
  • Snow Leopard is a no-show. This is a big one, folks. While Apple’s WWDC is a more appropriate event to demo the next revision of Mac OS X, just about everyone was expecting at least a small sneak preview of the operating system. As it stands now, we probably won’t get a new look at OS X 10.6 until this summer at WWDC ’09—let the delay rumors begin.
  • The Mac mini doesn’t get an update. I write this with the caveat that Apple may silently update the Mac mini during the events of Macworld, as has happened with their other products in years past. However, as it stands right now, the Mac mini is still running on nearly 18-month old hardware without a word on the product’s future from Apple. If nothing changes, expect several more months of “Mac mini discontinued” rumors leading up until Apple’s next event.
  • No iPhone nano to be seen. Blogs were really in love with this rumor leading up to the keynote, offering photos of leaked cases and confirmations from “trusted sources.” In the end, nothing came of it—not yet, at least. To be honest, I never really gave the rumors much credibility in the first place. An iPhone nano just doesn’t make sense to me. Apple would have to make huge sacrifices in the iPhone’s best feature: the UI. Not to mention the compatibility issues with all of the iPhone and iPod touch apps out there.
  • No megaton of any kind. There was no bombshell at all. Last year, we got the MacBook Air. 12 months before that, we got the iPhone. What a disappointing way for Apple to bow out of Macworld.

Truth be told, it wasn’t a bad keynote. It was just a bit boring and certainly not an event that needed to be hosted by Mr. Jobs. Now it’s back to the waiting game, and looking forward to Apple’s WWDC this summer. Before that though, I’ve got to get back to packing for CES.

Comments closed
    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 11 years ago

    $5200 for the “loaded-down” 17″ MBP ? Jeebus. There are lots of used cars for less than that, and they would go faster, to boot. And no Blu-Ray? I think Blu-Ray will soon be relegated to the bin of historical technological curiosities given its high cost and marginal image quality increase for those with TVs smaller than 50″, but at this price, it should come with a damn Blu-Ray drive anyway.

    Just seems high even for Apple, is all.

    • TTC
    • 11 years ago

    I hope Steve Jobs dies. He stands for everything that sickens me in our modern society.

    -superficial
    -trendy
    -herd mentality
    -snobbery
    -selfishness
    -greed

    Oddly enough, Bill Gates is in a few ways the polar opposite, yet he is still vilified.

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 11 years ago

    The last version of iMovie was useless to anyone, but my grandmother. The whole thing seemed designed around the idea of being easy to use, but without thinking about actually implementing features. You couldn’t really do any effects at all, meaning that all the software was useful for was combining different video files together. I had to downgrade to iMovie ’06 in order to make movies for my film class last year.

    On a side note, there’s nothing like an allusion to a depressing poem to start a blog.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 11 years ago

    Will iDVD/iMovie ’09 use more than 3 cores? They certainly don’t know. Will iDVD/iMovie ’09 allow me to setup chapters like iLife ’06?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      iDVD did not get changed.

    • DancesWithLysol
    • 11 years ago

    Its easy to make a case favoring Windows machines over Macs if you like playing computer games.

      • End User
      • 11 years ago

      Macs are Windows machines. I am running Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress 2 under Vista/Boot Camp on my MacBook Pro.

      The problem is that Apple does not offer current GPU tech. The most powerful consumer video card they offer is the 8800 GT. It’s a nice card but it pales in comparison to the current generation of video cards.

      I have a purpose built gaming box running Vista x64. Apart from gaming I have no use for it. If Apple would wise up and release a consumer Mac with current GPU offerings I would not need my gaming PC, I’d just use Boot Camp and run Windows.

        • Delphis
        • 11 years ago

        So, you are so lucky as a Mac user you get to *[

          • End User
          • 11 years ago

          I don’t mind paying for what I need (two copies of Vista) and I have no hesitation is blasting Apple for its terrible GPU options. Apart from gaming I have absolutely no use for Windows. Vista is way better than XP but it pales in comparison to 10.4.x.

        • indeego
        • 11 years ago

        Microsoft smiles at this comment. Even the macfreaks pay the MS taxg{<.<}g

          • derFunkenstein
          • 11 years ago

          I do, too, but in a different way. I have my 360 for games instead. :p

          • WaltC
          • 11 years ago

          Please, can we can the ridiculous rhetoric about a Windows tax?…;) Again, for the umpteenth time, taxes are not voluntary they are mandatory. Buying a Mac in no way forces the end user to also buy Windows–of course not. It does, however, force the end user to buy OSX, which comes a lot closer to the silly Windows tax analogy–but which isn’t true, either, since no computer user anywhere is forced to buy a Mac and thus OSX against his will. OTOH, everybody who pays taxes is quite literally forced to do so against his will…;) Let me know when Apple starts shipping Macs sans an OS, and starts taking orders for Macs equipped “with the OS of your choice”…;) I’ll believe it when I see it.

          Look, do you think it is by accident that Apple made BootCamp a standard component of OSX? Of course not–Apple engineered it into the neo-Mac quite deliberately because Apple correctly reasoned that the ability to run Windows natively on a Mac would widen the Mac’s appeal to non-traditional Mac owners–which is where Apple wisely reasoned it would have to go if the Mac’s share of the market was to increase at all beyond traditional, dismal levels.

          So, the irony of the situation is that while Microsoft is smiling because it is selling yet more copies of Windows, Apple is smiling, too, because Apple is selling more Macs as a result (along with more copies of OSX.)

          As far as Jobs’ appearance at this show–isn’t that obvious to everybody? There was no upside to it from a publicity point of view. Jobs’ weight is still down, still below normal for him, and so had he appeared it would have been noticed and commented on viciously. It was a question of the lesser of evils. I’m guessing that his weight is continuing to fall past what we saw back in June, and that he correctly reasoned that it would be better not to show himself and let tongues wag than to show himself and have them wag even more…;)

          Last, I also think that when the Mac went x86 the era of the traditional, anti-x86 Mac concluded at that time. The “cult of Mac” is dying because the traditional Mac platform, which sought to celebrate differences and incompatibilities with x86, has already died. The neo-Mac is a new breed entirely, and so I think that Jobs is entirely correct in letting the cult of Mac die as well. It’s going to take time, however, because traditional Mac customers are just a bit slow on the uptake as to precisely what has happened to the Mac of yore. Many of them strangely enough just don’t realize that it has already departed this earth…;)

            • indeego
            • 11 years ago

            It is a tax because it is seen as a requirement for getting stuff done, regardless of whether you want the actual product or not. I.e. in the past a linux user wanted a particular dell box, but they had to buy it with Windows, which almost certainly incurs a hidden cost for them.

            I feel the same way about advertising. I dislike buying a product knowing that the company had to raise the cost of the product x amount simply to get a stupid message out. Wasteful.

            I like Microsoft because it keeps me having a job, and it really is the best gaming platform [for my needs I don’t argue consoles are fine for others.] I would never spend (my own money) to do so. It just feels creepy.

            I dislike Apple because it reeks of absolute condescension, which pisses me off far more than Microsoft, whom I think is actually somewhat humble at times. And Apple somehow makes it /[

            • derFunkenstein
            • 11 years ago

            one of the pre-requisites of condescention is making it cool. Well duh. :p

          • adisor19
          • 11 years ago

          Crossover users beg to differ.

          Adi

    • eitje
    • 11 years ago

    I think Steve sat it out because he was behind the hack.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      dude, that’d be awesome. While we’re wildly speculating, I think Apple killed the new iMac and Mini because the InsanelyMac guys (biggest Hackintosh forum) are the ones that found the new Gestalt ID’s for the new versions. Behave a way we don’t like and then leak our new products? We’ll show you! We’ll kill those products altogether!

    • oneofthem
    • 11 years ago

    iWork. i don’t think i’ll be buying this one in a while. brb procrastinating and not giving a fuck

    • indeego
    • 11 years ago

    Phil Schiller needs a hormone imbalanceg{<.<}g

    • glynor
    • 11 years ago

    The announcements at MacWorld were clearly run of the mill not because that was all Apple could do, but because it was all they /[

      • emorgoch
      • 11 years ago

      If youe engineers are working over the Christmas holiday to get something ready for January 4th, you’ve got the shortest shipping times in history. The hardware enginners would have stopped work on the product months ago, the software engineers at least a month, and now you’re just letting the manufacturers build and ship.

      The only engineers who would have been working are the web-engineers, building up iWork.com

      That said, I don’t disagree that having the first-week of January timeline is a severe thorn in Apple’s side, and them backing away from it makes complete sense.

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 11 years ago

        Except the products aren’t shipping today. I remember seeing “April” for some of them. So you’re still in the time when they are just getting feature-frozen.

    • herothezero
    • 11 years ago

    Why is it that incremental improvements on the Apple platform merit press coverage across the spectrum?

    Do I really give a rat’s ass that GarageBand was updated?

      • DukeNukem
      • 11 years ago

      Derfunk, this dude gets it. Why don’t you?

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        Mommy cries because you drink.

      • Krogoth
      • 11 years ago

      I would place the blame on a small number of rabid Macoyltes.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        The tide of typos never ends.

      • kaikara
      • 11 years ago

      Wouldn’t it be funny if Dell or Lenovo had a huge keynote address about bringing out a new 17″ laptop. I mean come on the only news on computer sites yesterday seemed to be about this.

        • Meadows
        • 11 years ago

        Dell and Lenovo don’t develop major operating systems and popular software, so they’d have less to show by default.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 11 years ago

    Maybe he chose to sit this one out because the announcements were pretty weak. An updated or cost-reduced Mac Mini really could have piqued my interest but I guess not…

    • DukeNukem
    • 11 years ago

    The real bottom line is that its sad that Apple is all over the web with such boring and useless news and announcements. Seriously. Reporting this crap is a waste of time. I would say the same if Web sites reported on every little lame ass update and release Microsoft did.

    /Yawns

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      didja miss the fact that this is a blog post?

    • derFunkenstein
    • 11 years ago

    WTF is wrong with the collective Mac hivemind on the internet. I’m serious when I say that people that found today boring are morons. People build up unreasonable expectations based on rumors that float about that don’t come true and somehow

    You want boring? Check out MacWorld ’07. iPhone, iPhone, iPhone! What stupidity. I own a Mac. I use a Mac. I don’t give two craps about some touch-screen video-playing smart phone iPod tethered to a crappy cellular carrier. Or 2008! MacBook Air! Yippee! Too large to be an ultra portable, too small to get an optical drive, and too expensive to be worth spending money on. Big freakin’ deal.

    THIS. THIS was worth my time today. iPhoto had Facebook integration thanks to Facebook previously, but facial recognition is probably worth upgrading right then and there. iWeb got integrated FTP (probably feature it should have always had) and social networking integration. It didn’t get any play in the keynote, but to me that’s also worthwhile, especially since it’s only uploading changes instead of wasting my time and bandwidth uploading files that haven’t been modified. iMovie not only becomes useful again, but it gains some very useful image stability tools and effects.

    Of course not everything is roses and cherries.Garage Band got some…err…enhancements and strange features added (as well as possibly one new piece of technology). Did iDVD even get an update?

    One thing about Garage Band has been pretty much ignored, though, and I think it’s worth noting. Apple (audio) loops are AIFF files that store metadata showing when beats (and subdivisions of beats) happen so that you can get audio to match up and sound more natural when you time stretch. If you watch the videos on Apple’s site regarding the “learn to play” lessons, you’ll see that they talk about changing the tempo for when you’re practicing the play along. That means they’ve implemented a way to time stretch and match beats in video files. Maybe it’s something they’ve already implemented in Logic or Final Cut Studio packages (I’ve never seen it, though), but that would open the door for “video” Apple Loops, or more to the point, an easier way to match up audio and video.

    The Mini and the iMac will get their updates on Apple’s schedule. This year was about proving that Apple isn’t tied to IDG’s schedule anymore. Mercifully, this changes IDG’s position from Santa Claus delivering toys to the good boys and girls once or twice a year to a media show has-been, just like E3 and Comdex. Thank God they can release products on their own schedule – it’s a sign that Apple has finally “grown up” into a company that’s not reliant on a dying print company to get its message out. We should all be thankful the first and last Philnote wasn’t full of product rev after product rev. People are impatient, though, and I think the Mac home server/NAS/streaming service is coming, along with all the other hardware everyone wanks on about.

    The bottom line is that people use a Mac because of the software, and the software took center stage. Hallelujah!

    • DukeNukem
    • 11 years ago

    And you’re a douche.

      • grantmeaname
      • 11 years ago

      the reply button.

      you missed it.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 11 years ago

        he was doing it on purpose. He was trying to get my attention. Let him know I’ll talk to him AFTER he gets out of rehab.

          • DukeNukem
          • 11 years ago

          Let your Mom know I’ll be home soon. Daddy needs a lap dance.

    • DukeNukem
    • 11 years ago

    Who cares.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 11 years ago

      You cared enough to post.

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